Everybody is pontificating about Trump’s appeal. I’ll throw in my 2 cents in the context of my choice to have a remix made of “President Mussolini Makes The Planes Run On Time.” Basically, I am (this song title is) precisely right.
Some commentators have danced close to this perception, talking about the authoritarian appeal — and then there’s been a lot of talk about the blatant hostility toward immigrants; the outrageous political incorrectness; the thuggish behavior at his events; the populist economic nationalism; the amusement factor and the miseducation of Americans. (Oh, also the big penis.)
But what I haven’t seen yet (although it’s probably out there somewhere) is anyone noting that Trump is promising to “make the trains run on time.” For those of you in need of a history lesson, this was Mussolini’s 1920s appeal to the messy and dysfunctional Italian nation… that he would make things work — get stuff done … indeed, that he would forcibly make stuff (and people) work.
And that’s the element of Trumps’ message that appeals not just to some Republicans but to Independents and even some liberals -— “You’ll see. It’ll be great. It’ll be yuuuge! They’ll go along with me and they’ll love me.”
Trump supporters fever dream about him being the bull in the establishments’ china shop (he has been that during the campaign). He’ll call bullshit whenever he thinks he sees it (and isn’t most of our politics bullshit, no matter what your leanings are?) He’ll push aside the usual politesse and, in doing that, he’ll also push aside the political class, or bully them into joining in with whatever he wants to get done. He will do this by appealing to people’s anger at the establishment via deep trolling … the namecalling; the contempt; the exposure of their corruptions as witnessed in person by an unapologetic business opportunist (himself).
Trump is appealing to that moment of exasperation that all of us experience when we see what we think is as an obvious need and think… why the hell can’t they just get that done? And in those moments, we may long for a leader who will come along and says… “Get this done. Get it done on time. Get it done within budget” or… ‘You’re Fired!’” Or worse, you won’t just be fired, you’ll be publicly slimed, humiliated and run out of the country by a crazed pitchfork carrying mob.
For the right wing, it’s regulations and unions and corruption that stops us from getting anything done. For liberals and the left, it’s greed, austerity budgeting for social and infrastructure needs, Republican obstructionism and corruption. And while Donald’s narrative leans towards the right wing, he’s flexible. One gets the feeling that he would be happy to crap all over anybody who gets in his way.
Ironically, contrary to the panicky screechings of the right wing that the current president is a radical communist Muslim who has upended our way of living; an underlying visceral reason for Trump’s appeal is that he is the absolute opposite of Obama, a cautious man who measures his words and decision with great subtlety.
Just to be clear, I don’t think a President Trump would succeed in pushing aside resistance and getting stuff done (It’s also worth noting that the stuff he would do if he could would likely be mostly awful.) I think he would face the most divided nation since Lincoln and he would be met by a hurricane of hate from all kinds of legitimate opponents (and deservedly so, for his exploitation of racism and idiocracy),
In fact, I think an actual Trump presidency would implode within months in a tsunami of tragedy and farce. But the appeal to ‘Make The Planes Run On Time’ will likely be picked up by someone with a few less character flaws next time around. And that person will be dangerous indeed.
Original 1982 President Mussolini lyrics
He is the air controller / You are the air / The people are proud of their father / Foreigners beware / He’s got a neutron charge card / He’s a mighty tough customer / He’s the glorious defender of the homeland / He might just play tough with ya
President Mussolini makes the planes run on time/
Oh dig it little Arabella / He’s a strong man / Keep ’em flying
Newspapers scream he’s a winner / Nobody’s saying what’s being won / Actor image — no content / What exactly is being done? ‘ Send a little aid down south just to / Kill a few San Salvador nuns / Down in South Africa on civilized business / Trying to get gold for guns
President Mussolini makes the planes run on time / Oh dig it little Arabella / He’s a strong man / Keep ’em flying
It couldn’t be easier to know just what to do / If you were holding out all the money / Just a-lookin’ for an easy going mechanic of depression / And then to wind up with your teeth against the wire fence / Wind up in the smallest of worlds — crotch to the angriest lips / One deadly little spasm in the B.F. Skinner cancerteria / One deadly little spasm and… what did this money buy?
Keep ’em flying / Keep ’em flying / Keep ’em flying (etc)